Big Data from Space refers to Earth and space observation data collected by space-borne and ground-based sensors. Whether for Earth or space observation, they qualify as being called ‘big data’ given the sheer volume of sensed data, now reaching the Exabyte scale. This is not the only qualifying measure however; there is also the velocity as new data is acquired almost on a continuous basis and with an increasing rate, their variety, delivered by sensors acting over various frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum in passive and active modes, as well as their veracity as sensed data is associated with uncertainty and accuracy measurements. Last but not least, the value of big data from space depends on our capacity to extract information and meaning from them.
The Big Data from Space conference (BiDS), which took place from 12 to 14 November at ESA’s ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy, brought together researchers, engineers, developers, and users in the area of Big Data in the space sector. The focus was on the whole data life cycle, ranging from data acquisition by space borne and ground-based sensors to data management, analysis and exploitation in the domains of Earth Observation, Space Science and Astronomy, Climate Change, etc. Special emphasis was placed on highlighting synergies and cross fertilisation opportunities.
The main objectives of BiDS’14 were to:
- contribute towards the identification of the priorities for a ‘Big Data from Space’ research, technology development and innovation agenda
- widen competences and expertise of universities, research institutes, labs, SMEs, and industrial actors
- foster networking of experts and users towards better access and sharing of data, tools, and resources
- leverage innovation, spin in/off of technologies, and business development arising from research and industry progress
Statement from P.G. Marchetti, ESA:
“The Conference provided a snapshot of the current research activities, developments, and initiatives in Big Data from Space and concluded with recommendations to ESA.
Numerous contributions are addressing the volume dimension of big data from space, with emphasis on architectures and platforms as well mainstream technology and hardware developments including graphic processing units. The velocity dimension is driving substantial research and developments for the analysis of time series. The variety dimension transpires across most contributions where the data coming from different sensors or even non-sensor data are integrated and exploited. Numerous application domains are represented with emphasis on geospatial information extraction, climate science, and astronomy. In addition, the need to scale-up SAR data access, research and service support, and processing for the Sentinel-1 satellites is recognised by a session on SAR processing.
The Conference also highlighted new and emerging areas as well as areas requiring special attention to exploit the full spectrum of big data from space so as to foster the generation of new and reliable meaningful information for the benefit of users and service developers, increasing the opportunities for science and business.”